American realism and naturalism
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American Realism and Naturalism. 1860-1920(ish). What is Realism?. A faithful representation of reality in literature, also known as “verisimilitude.” Emphasis on development of believable characters. Written in natural vernacular, or dialect. Prominent from 1860-1890.

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American Realism and Naturalism

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American realism and naturalism

American Realismand Naturalism

1860-1920(ish)


What is realism

What is Realism?

  • A faithful representation of reality in literature, also known as “verisimilitude.”

  • Emphasis on development of believable characters.

  • Written in natural vernacular, or dialect.

  • Prominent from 1860-1890.


Why did realism develop

Why did Realism develop?

  • The Civil War

  • The urbanization and industrialization of America

  • As a reaction to Romanticism

  • Increasing rates of democracy and literacy

  • The emerging middle class

  • Upheaval and social change in the latter half of the 19th century


Realist writers

Realist Writers

  • Mark Twain

  • Edgar Lee Masters


What is naturalism

What is Naturalism?

  • Applied scientific principles of objectivity and detachment to the study of human beings.

  • Influenced by Darwinism (natural selection) and psychology (Freud)

  • Man is controlled by unseen forces.

  • Often depict man in conflict with nature, society, or himself.

  • Prominent from 1880-1920(ish)


Why did naturalism develop

Why did Naturalism develop?

  • The swell of immigrants in the latter half of the 19th century, which led to a larger lower class and increased poverty in the cities

  • The prominence of psychology and the theories of Sigmund Freud

  • Pessimism in the wake of the Civil War and Reconstruction

  • Publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species


Naturalist writers

Naturalist Writers

  • Stephen Crane

  • Ambrose Bierce

  • Jack London

  • Edwin Arlington Robinson


Points to remember

Points to Remember…

  • Realism and Naturalism are intertwined and connected.

  • Their influence has dominated most literature created since 1920, though the movement itself is dated to roughly that point.

  • They are truly American modes of writing.


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